Wear the mask
“Here we go again,” I’m sure some of you are thinking. “Is this woman writing another column chiding people for not wearing a mask?”
You’re darn right I am! As regular readers know, my husband, Gideon, is a teacher at Eureka Springs Middle School. He and his colleagues have resumed teaching in-person and the anxiety over transmitting COVID-19 is real. There hasn’t been a major breakout yet, but our educational leaders go to work every day knowing there could be.
So what can you, as a member of the general public, do to give our school teachers and administrators better peace of mind? You already know what I’m going to say. Wear the mask!
Wear the mask when you go to the store. Wear the mask when you stop to get gas. Wear the mask when you go to work. Wear the mask when you walk downtown. Wear the mask when you go out to eat. Wear the mask when you go to the post office. Wear the mask when you get a drink with friends. If you really have to go to a bar or restaurant, the least you can do is wear the mask.
“Oh, but I heard so-and-so wore a mask and got sick anyway!”
“Well, I don’t trust anything the CDC has to say.”
“I have a religious exemption from wearing the mask.”
“I have a health exemption from wearing the mask.”
“You know you can get sick from breathing in the same air all day!”
“Have you seen this video on Youtube that proves COVID-19 is a hoax?”
To all you mask deniers, I have read and heard it all by now. It seems that selfish people will do anything and everything to justify not wearing a mask for a 30-minute trip to the grocery store or even a five-minute stop at the post office. You can’t breathe in the mask? OK, stop going in public. But how will you get your groceries and medication? There are a few local programs that will help with that free of charge. Oh, you just have to go to a restaurant before you lose your mind? OK, wear the mask!
If you have medical issues that prevent you from wearing the mask, your health needs should absolutely come first. That means you should stay home at all times until the pandemic has passed. It’s going to be a while, so I hope you are well-acquainted with your couch. Now, if you are going out in public, the health of those around you comes first. That means you should wear the mask no matter what.
I am no hypocrite. I wear the mask every day at work to keep my coworkers safe. For me, it’s a sign of respect. It’s a way to say, “Hey, I care about you and I don’t want you to get sick.” That’s how I feel about everyone I interact with at the grocery store or the city meetings I attend. But I’m not just saying that to the folks I personally interact with. I’m saying it to their loved ones and coworkers and acquaintances — to everyone they might see when we part ways.
If you wear a mask to the grocery store, you are protecting a single mother who has no choice but to send her child to school. In turn, you are protecting all the students that child interacts with, as well as teachers, administrators and paraprofessionals. The simple act of placing fabric around your nose and mouth can save our local school districts from a major crisis.
To those of you who are so insistent that the mask doesn’t work or it’s a method of government control, I encourage you to step out of your bubble and look around you. Look at that elderly couple shopping for groceries. Look at that immunocompromised woman at the gas pump across from you. Look literally anywhere besides the mirror, and you’ll see that this is bigger than your discomfort or government conspiracies.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again and again and again. Don’t be selfish — wear the mask!